Monday, March 11, 2013

Song of the day

"Other Thematic Material", by Magazine.

I sometimes read Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck comics. They have been written and drawn over the years by many different people, but always with such a high level of craftsmanship that you never look at a drawing of Donald, or Scrooge, or Huey, Dewey and Louie, and think to yourself, "That's not right".

That is the kind of neat trick that Howard Devoto has pulled off with "Other Thematic Material". It could almost be an outtake from "Real Life". Except that "Real Life" was recorded in 1978 and "No Thyself", on which this song appears, was recorded in 2011.

The bass is not being played by Barry Adamson, and yet is instantly recognisable. The guitar is not being played (obviously enough) by the late John McGeoch, and yet it, too, is instantly recognisable. If anything, the main difference is in Devoto's voice, which clearly can't quite be asked to do what it could do 33 years ago. But Howard Devoto is the one component of Magazine that no amount of craftsmanship could mask the absence of. (Note: I am choosing not to draw attention to the lyrics.)

Okay, so "No Thyself" is never going to have the same pull as the first three Magazine albums, but it was nice, not to mention totally unexpected, to have them back.

[Side note: I heard that Barry Adamson has rejoined the Bad Seeds for the current tour, but that he is playing percussion rather than bass. This strikes me as a bit like hiring Marco Pierre White to do the washing up, but I'm sure they have their reasons.]